Owning a car seems like an unwanted hassle to many young Americans, who prefer to hail a ride from an Uber or Lyft shared car than buy one. So it is that youth are driving the popularity of the ridesharing lifestyle.


Congestion at 7th Avenue and West 33rd Street in Manhattan, November 2, 2017 (Photo by Elvert Barnes)



"Today, young people are reshaping urban life by demanding ride-sharing services," wrote Jack Aldane, in "Cities Today" in early July.


Distinct from traditional taxi services, ride-hailing apps allow prospective passengers to use a cell phone app to connect with owner-operator drivers.


One expectation of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft was fewer cars clogging city streets. But studies suggest the opposite: that ride-hailing companies are pulling riders off buses, subways, bicycles and their own feet and putting them in cars instead, reported the "New York Post" earlier this year.


Christo Wilson, a professor of computer science at Boston’s Northeastern University, who has looked at Uber’s practice of surge pricing during heavy volume told the Post, “The emerging consensus is that ride-sharing (is) increasing congestion."


A 2017 report by Bruce Schaller, principal of Schaller Consulting, in Brooklyn, says Manhattan's traffic problem imposes significant costs on both motorists and on people who never get into a motor vehicle. Most directly, congestion impedes the city's buses, contributing to rapid declines in bus ridership over the past four years.


In the United States, the median age of those making use of ride-hailing apps is 33.


A national Pew Research Center survey of 4,787 American adults published in 2016 finds that use of these platforms varies widely across the U.S. population.


Just 15 percent of Americans have used ride-hailing apps like Uber or Lyft, but twice as many have never heard of these apps before responding to the Pew survey.


Pew researchers found that 18- to 29-year-olds were seven times more likely to use ride-hailing apps as those aged 65 or above - 28 percent vs just four percent.


Young people living in urban areas are heavy ride-sharing users, the Pew study confirms, as are those with relatively high levels of income and educational attainment.


The share of Americans aged 16 to 24 who held a driver's license dropped from 76 percent in 2000 to 71 percent in 2013, while car-sharing memberships grew, wrote Aarian Marshall in a February 2018 article in "Wired" magazine.


"The automotive industry thinks personal car ownership will plummet in the coming decades," wrote Marshall.


Frequent ride-hailing users are less likely than other Americans to own a car, but they also rely heavily on a range of other transit options, the Pew survey found.


But people with disabilities, even young people, find ride-hailing services to be practically "useless" because so few of their vehicles are equipped to handle wheelchairs and motorized scooters, finds a report by New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI), an advocacy group.


When riders summoned wheelchair-accessible vehicles from Uber and Lyft, the only ride-hailing companies to offer such services, the wait time was more than four times longer than for regular service, the NYLPI learned.


The advocacy group called on Uber and Lyft, along with smaller operators Juno and Via, to do better by disabled riders.


At least in New York, disabled people are now getting a chance at better service. Both Uber and Lyft committed to a pilot program under the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission intended to provide better service for disabled riders. The two-year pilot, which began this month, will pool wheelchair-accessible vehicles and route them through a centralized dispatcher.


But the Independent Drivers Guild, which represents thousands of ride-hailing drivers in New York, said it will take financial incentives, perhaps from the city and/or the private sector, to encourage drivers to convert their vehicles to easily handle wheelchairs.


By Sunny Lewis

Environment News Service (ENS)


July 16, 2018